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Articles tagged "Alienation"

Isolation

It's hot, hot enough to suffocate. There is nothing except this table upon which I sleep, a rectangular hall with four doors and twelve windows. On each side a door. On the shorter sides, two windows, each with a door between them, and on the longer sides, two windows to the left of the door and two to the right. The town is absolutely empty but for the sound of my thoughts straying from me to the point of anger. Alone I am in this hall, alone on the table, alone in the town, I, alone,...

A Condition

You’re certain that nothing will dissuade you now. Nothing. Not your neighbors’ invitation to the luncheon to celebrate their boys’ circumcision. Not the kind old lady’s pleading to help her write a letter to her faraway son who never visits. Not the laughter of your three-year-old boy (whose laughter—you would say—sounds like a gurgling stomach). Not the mischievous way he clung to the collar of your jallebeya when you saw him outside just a few moments...

O. Cuniculi

A rabbit. He turned at the sound of rustling in the bushes and spotted a ball of white fluff. What he’d mistaken for a white dog was staring at him with red eyes. He wouldn’t have known it was a rabbit if not for the eyes. He knelt before it. The eyes held him captive. As he gazed into them, relief at the thought that he was not the only one in this world with eyes red from exhaustion washed over him, and he chafed to think such a being had been stranded in an unlit park for...

On Etgar Keret

Phillip Lopate's essay was included in the accompanying booklet to WWB's March 5th event at the Idlewild bookstore in New York City. It is also part of our ongoing discussion of Etgar Keret's Girl on the Fridge, all this March, moderated by Adam Rovner.—Editors Like any magician worth his salt, Etgar Keret starts with mundane objects and familiar scenarios, then transforms them into utterly unpredictable shapes. Sometimes the magic is white, sometimes black: if the...

The Well is Someone’s Home

each time i dig into the well i never reach the bottom. i pass endless broken fragments of age. my breath is too short to climb all the way down, and my gaze too blind to fathom the top. hundreds of prayers fall to earth turning into songs among the barely audible bells. i call to myself as i disappear in thick dreams. i answer in restless whispers. painful moans write a biography of torn wounds for the scattering sands. have i dug so far and deep? only so that my womb can preserve a...

Womb

My name is Nagari. Thirty years of age. There is no need to explain; I understand. . . . That evening, after my bath, my hair still wet, I heard a pounding on the door of my rented room. Three men had come to pick me up. From the sight of the jeep waiting out front; from the low hum of its engine, as light as the evening air; and from their voices,  polite but firm, I knew what was happening. The three men took me to a cold building with slippery  floors. A long corridor...

Tunnel

The roads I walked didn't tire me, the plans I formed to kill myself didn't work, I did not diminish one bit, I did not increase I forgot the night I died in your nakedness. I found myself like an inner pain I neither escaped from your murder nor died there was blood around, it felt cold, desolate . . . Carrying a tunnel's wind-rush in me I passed through the agony, throughout the road, in time's fragments they reckoned me a shiver and yet, except for a...

Water

I won't talk anymore, I won't say harsh words in the morning for a dream I embroider a flower of pearl on my bosom. I never knew, what you understood from my words, I spoke the forest's frightfulness the plain's tranquility silenced you slept a long sleep, I saw the dream. Unceasingly I spoke of a path: I'm water, I didn't forget my name I spoke of a mountain I came across while wandering; I didn't meddle with the world's affairs, the world does not...

Swiss Literature and “The Assistant”

In no other novel does modern Switzerland show her changing face with such gentle charm. In The Assistant, Robert Walser looks back on his sojourn with the engineer Dubler in Wädenswil in 1903. As a testament to how closely the novel's contents reflect reality, Abendstern, the villa in the novel, stands to this day; and as if quite committed to the literary realism of the nineteenth century, Walser only slightly changes real places and names. He transforms "Wädenswil" to...

The Pig

Asbjørn Hall was admitted to an Oslo hospital on December 4th, 2003, for an intestinal operation, a rather unpleasant business no one would look forward to. But Asbjørn Hall was seventy-eight and had never been ill before, barring minor complaints such as colds, toothache, and the occasional hangover. For that reason he realized now this was no more than to be expected; that's not saying he saw this as some punishment for a long and godless life—no, Asbjørn...

Hai Phong

Yellow lamps, prostitutes' eyes Lines of sad provincial poems On a farewell afternoon, yellow leaves are falling Ocean winds have no ports or borders Ocean clouds go their own way Like dates, the harbors have no names In the Lap River the tide rises Fishing boats go and come Someone waits at the Binh ferry for someone A smile is blurred by cement-plant smoke The people of Hai Phong are like sea-wind and sun Off they go, with the dawn Their footprints cover the...

From behind a Closed Window

Is there, out there, a sky Sunny or windy or humid with autumn A sky at dawn, or a sunset sky? Are there, out there, human faces Strange or familiar Happy or hurting Friendly faces, or faces like beasts'? Is there, out there, a nothingness With no future, and no past? Was it I who drew the curtains across the window? Is there, out there, dark earth That buries all flesh that once was beauty That buries all glances, all shut lips? Is there only this place?...

At 30

The first ten years of my life, as the moon exposed its silent craters to my small city far below, the streets filled with shouts, gongs and drums drove out devils, my lame uncle cursed in the yard, and careless, I got kissed by the white rooster's beak. A little girl pulled her pants down before me, and once I ran into the ghost of a suicide on the stairs, but my father raised me high overhead and told me not to fear. Hailstones bounced their lives out on the walk to the...

Tired Theseus

You took down the pale blue garbage bag with yogurt caps, banana skins, colors like tired oil. So much remains after us by the morning, a streak of dust on the bathtub, lipstick on the tiles, your gaze lined with scale. With dull, used-up kindness you rest your hand in mine. The memory too ferments, the time in common, like cider does— I always wake up to the smell of something sour. Perhaps the carpets. So many patterns in them, to follow those—to roam about with...

Crystal-Study

Your neckline, like a glacier among the ice-slopes of your skin, displays that it's cold under the surface. Often you look at me. I don't mind. A waning moon is your soul, the sickle thinning until new moon. Some women, I'm saying this offstage, have between their fingers a web of ice, these are watery creatures. Now tell me, when I get home would you help me off with my coat, putting on the rack whatever can be stuffed on a hanger of a day, saying perhaps, I...

Sun in an Empty Room, 1963

In this bedroom devoid of furniture and unpolluted the action is set. It is filled with sunlight admitted by the window and my footsteps resound as if someone were walking with me. I stand up straight, my eyes intent on something (on what is clearly unimportant). Floating in the nuptial glow of afternoon (the sun already waning) I noted the presence of a shadow, a pulse, a breath. It's just me: tending to be invisible, I rediscover myself and leave a sign. The...

“Bring to me all that’s of no use to others:”

Bring to me all that's of no use to others: My fire must burn it all! I lure life, and I lure death As weightless gifts to my fire. Fire loves light-weighted things: Last year's brushwood, wreathes, words. Fire blazes from this kind of food. You will rise from it purer than ash! I am the Phoenix; only in the fire I sing. Provide for my miraculous life! I burn high--and I burn to the ground. From now on let your nights be light-filled. The icy fire--the...

In the Shade of the Almond Tree

Author's Note: Two major obstacles to happiness remain constant throughout the history of Haitian society: social and economic injustice, and totalitarian tendencies. Poverty can be as cruel as dictatorship in its effect on the individual. When the two join forces against the human spirit, the choices are limited: violence and madness, hopelessness and revolt. Because even in the depths of madness, revolt can lie dormant, only to erupt, savagely and uncontrollably, against those who...

The Veiler of All Deeds

NOTE: Born in 1968, Hamdy Abu Golayyel is of Bedouin origin and lives in Cairo. In keeping with a growing trend in Egyptian fiction, Thieves in Retirement-the novel from which this excerpt is taken-is set in a crowded Cairo apartment building, the various inhabitants of which offer a cross-section of Egyptian society, while highlighting a modern sense of displacement and urban alienation. Thieves in Retirement will be published by Syracuse University Press in 2006. People are...

from The Ministry of Pain

Like the desert the northern landscape makes for absolutism. Except that in the north the desert is green and full of water. And there are no temptations, no roundnesses or curves. The land is flat, which makes people extremely visible, and that in turn is visible in their behaviour. The Dutch are not much for contact; they are for confrontation. They bore their luminous eyes into those of another and weigh his soul. They have no hiding places. Not even their houses. They leave their...

Nonmilitary Statements

1 Yes, I did write in my letter that I would wait for you forever I didn't mean exactly "forever" I just included it for the rhythm. 2 No, he was not among them. There were so many of them! More than I've seen in my life on any television screen. And yet he was not among them he has eyes and gestures and anxiety but he was not among them. 3 It has no carvings or hands. It always remains there in front of the television this empty chair. 4 I dream...

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